Suffering families can find support

THE figures are worrying. An estimated 2000 people take their own lives in Australia each year.

Many more attempt suicide.

Men are the most vulnerable.

The effects of a suicide are wide-ranging. While death is always traumatic, Jill Fisher from Standby Response says the repercussions from a suicide "affect a community".

"The science isn't exact, but at the moment we believe up to 100 people are affected by suicide," Ms Fisher said.

"Anecdotally, we can say in a small town, it affects the whole community.

"Like a sports injury, even some time afterwards it doesn't take much for the pain to come back. It is really important to seek help when this occurs.

"There is no time limit on grief."

Ms Fisher said dealing with a suicide was a "very different type of loss".

"Previously, there was a stigma, which became a barrier to seeking support," she said.

"Today, many people still may not believe they are worthy to try and receive help. We need to make sure everyone knows they can."

The "trajectory of bereavement" around a suicide is also much longer than coping with usual grief.

"It is around 10 years for suicide. It is a physical, emotional and psychological loss."

But it was important "to find a way to heal and live with the loss".

"Suicide can have a sense of rejection about it (that the person who died didn't ask the other for help). This may not have been the intent of the person who died," she said.

"When someone has a terrible tragedy, we don't question ourselves.

"But with suicide we can say 'what on earth does this say about me, I sat next to that person everyday'."

Despite the difficulty, it is a loss people can learn to deal with, particularly if they get "good support at the right time".

"They have to be ready to receive it. Often it is weeks after an event that people need help," Ms Fisher said.

"Support involves helping those grieving understand more about what suicide is, what it means and that a person in that state may not able to think beyond themselves

"It is really important to be able to speak about the loss in safe circumstances. The person needs to find a way to make sense of it, to make meaning of it.

"With the right treatment, people can heal. Just talking is one of the best therapies.

"They need to be able to share their journey of loss at different times.

"It becomes a story for them they can accommodate. Feelings, thoughts and even images will minimise over time and happier memories will return."


  • Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659
  • Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 78
  • United Synergies StandBy Response Service on 0407 766 961
  • Lifeline Australia 131114
  • Kids Help Line 1800551800
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659467